Pignanelli & Webb: Much mythology surrounds Utah’s Legislature and also Utah’s smoggy weather inversions. But one scientific fact is that murky air is nature's way of warning us of the imminent arrival of a legislative session. If the air is especially bad, it portends an especially contentious session.
So get out your gas masks, because lawmakers swing into action bright and early tomorrow. Although we can’t provide relief from gunky air, we can, as a public service, offer our annual interpretation of what they say at the Capitol — and what they really mean.
All politicians: "I will focus my energies to develop sound initiatives that attack the air pollution plaguing Utahns." (“The only real way to get clean air would require dramatic lifestyle changes and government forcing massive driving reductions. But I ain’t delivering that message.”)
Republican legislators: "For decades the gas tax funded road construction, but with the advent of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles, further study is needed to find a new way to pay for highways." (“I love blaming green energy as a reason not to raise taxes in an election year.”)
Gov. Gary Herbert: "I'm excited to re-engage with the Legislature." ("I’d really like to ignore them, but they’re invading for 45 days.")
GOP legislative leadership: "We appreciate the input of Gov. Herbert and his staff in the legislative process." ("We’ve been running the show for years and it ain't changing now.")
Democrat Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis: "The minority party will offer creative and reasonable alternative solutions to Republican policies." (“Please don’t ignore us; we actually have something to say.")
The news media: “We will provide in-depth coverage of important public policy issues that affect the citizenry.” (“We will be all over the sensational and titillating stuff, even if it has no chance of passing, and then we’ll write editorials blasting the Legislature for wasting time on message bills.”)
Senate President Wayne Neiderhauser: "The Senate has tremendous ideas with experienced and steady leaders." ("The governor and the House need to grow up and follow our leadership.")
House Speaker Becky Lockhart: "In my final session I will look out for the interests of all Utahns.” ("As speaker, I dispatched a corrupt attorney general, restored budget prosperity, opened the legislative process, enhanced the reputation of the Legislature, and promoted innovations in education. Anything else I need to buff my reputation as gubernatorial candidate?")
House Majority Leader Bradley Dee: "I will not allow the opposition to push us around." ("By opposition, I mean the real enemy, the Senate, not the Democrats.")
Capitol Hill reporters: "We intend to scrutinize every meal, gift or perk that legislators receive." ("We expect those ultra-convenient reserved parking places will be ready for us.")
Conservative firebrand legislators: "I demand that every legislative proposal be strictly reviewed for constitutional purity and fiscal functionality." ("All my bills are stuck in committee and I have to sound like I'm accomplishing something.")
Liberal firebrand legislators: "I am the tireless voice for the underclass and those without representation." ("All my bills are stuck in committee and I have to sound like I'm accomplishing something.")
Lawmakers responding to citizen lobbyists: "Thank you for the information, I will give careful consideration to your concerns." ("I hate these interruptions on my way to the bathroom.”)
Nervous legislators: "I appreciate the issues restaurant owners have raised regarding the ‘Zion Curtain.’" ("The Big Guy has spoken. I'm not getting involved in this one.")
Male legislators: "I continue to respect the passion and determination of House Minority Leader Jen Seelig." ("She intimidates me.")
GOP legislators: "I remain committed to fight against the encroaching federal government, the socialist Obama administration, left-wing advocacy groups who threaten to undermine the moral fabric of this country, a United Nations that is working for global domination, and any threat to our beloved Constitution and way of life." (“There, that should take care of my delegates for a week or two.”)3 comments on this story
Democratic legislators: "I remain committed to fight against those who wish to dismantle important federal programs that provide a safety net for disadvantaged citizens, anti-Obamacare activities, right-wing advocacy groups who threaten to undermine the civil liberties of this country, large corporations working for global domination, and any threat to our beloved Constitution and way of life." (“There, that should take care of my delegates for a week or two.")
Visiting members of Utah's congressional delegation: "I always enjoy reporting to my valued friends in the Legislature." ("Do I have to do this again? Every session it’s more whining and carping about the federal government.”)
Lobbyists: "We are in the business of providing information to help lawmakers in their important deliberations." ("With 35 clients, how do I juggle their competing interests?")
Endnote:Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D’Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: email@example.com.